Sweet Potato Harvest Yields Sweet Treats

| 11/16/2011 8:09:00 PM

Suzanne HeadshotAndrew and I have gardened on some scale since we were children living with our parents. After our marriage, we used our front flower beds at a rented home for growing peppers and tomatoes. When we moved to a home with a larger yard, we planted a postage stamp size garden and tried to grow a variety of crops on a small scale. That is, until the moles and an eager ground hog demolished it! After that, we lived in a rental home inside the city limits that had a massive back yard which the owners were nice enough to let us plant for two years. It was there that we began canning on a large scale. Our first “real” garden year we put up 148 quarts of green beans alone!

Our farm here closed exactly one year ago this week. One of the first things we did was plan where our home would go, the first pasture, garden area, and fruit trees. This first garden year was pretty rough, and if you read our previous article on plowing with pigs then you know exactly how rough! Most of our common garden veggies failed miserably due to weeds, flood, or excessive heat and drought. However, it was an awesome year for potatoes! Our red and white potatoes were harvested much earlier in the year, and after our great success with them we were very eager to see if our sweet potatoes would do as well also.

Now, even though we were raised gardening, neither of our families ever grew sweet potatoes. So the first thing we had to do was hit the books, and the internet, to learn about growing them. We learned that the best time to plant sweet potatoes in our area was late May to early June, well after planting time for all our other summer crops. There was also the question of which variety to plant. I was surprised to find that sweet potatoes aren’t all orange. There are a wide range of varieties ranging in color from purple to white. We chose the traditional orange route, and picked the Beauregard variety due to it’s moist and meaty flesh, high yields and resistance to cracking and soil pox. The Beauregard is a great variety for a new beginner, requiring very little attention while still producing 400-500 bushels per acre!

The Beauregard is supposed to have a 80-90 day growth period. So we planted our 50 slips as soon as they arrived the second week of June. The area we chose to plant them in tends to be more wet than the rest of the garden, so we planted them in long mounded rows. Once the slips began growing well, we came back through and hilled them up some more. The last week of September we dug a few up and found them to still be a little small for our taste. So, we gave them a few more weeks. After 110 days they were ready to harvest. Andrew and William hooked up the potato plow and went to work.

  Digging Up Sweet Potatoes 

It didn’t take long for Andrew and the kids to fill up a wheel barrow. Cierra was only a week old at the time, so she and I supervised and took pictures. We had 2 ½ rows 50 foot long to harvest. After just one row, the wheel barrow was over half full! First Row of Sweet Potatoes 

Chuck Mallory
11/22/2011 9:55:35 PM

Those recipes are great! You hit the number one and two things to do with sweet potatoes. Sweet potato fries are a "gourmet" item in Chicago. I want to tell these restaurant owners that that was "home cooking" when I lived in northern Missouri--and not a gourmet item! Also, I have made sweet potato pie for co-workers here in Chicago and they say, "Isn't it the same thing as pumpkin pie?" Only the experienced palate can know! I prefer sweet potato pie to pumpkin pie.

Nebraska Dave
11/17/2011 8:37:58 PM

Suzanne, the last time I had sweet potato pie was on a trip I took to Louisiana. Our team had Thanksgiving dinner with the church there and that was on the menu. Awesome!! I have not grown sweet potatoes but they look easy enough to grow. Our family tradition for sweet potatoes is peeled and cut in chunks, put in a baking dish with lots of brown sugar, and butter. It's not real healthy but very tasty. I don't think Thanksgiving is too much about eating healthy. It's mostly about celebrating the harvest and feasting on all the wonderful things grown through out the year. Well that's how it started but now is just about celebrating good food. I enjoy Thanksgiving but have learned to limit my food consumption. Have a great Thanksgiving.

Live The Good Life with GRIT!

Grit JulAug 2016At GRIT, we have a tradition of respecting the land that sustains rural America. That's why we want you to save money and trees by subscribing to GRIT through our automatic renewal savings plan. By paying now with a credit card, you save an additional $6 and get 6 issues of GRIT for only $16.95 (USA only).

Or, Bill Me Later and send me one year of GRIT for just $22.95!

Facebook Pinterest Instagram YouTube Twitter

Free Product Information Classifieds Newsletters